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Scientists from the University of Lethbridge claim to have found strong strains of cannabis that could help prevent and then treat COVID-19.
They say that the strains appear to affect the ACE2 pathways that the virus uses as a gateway to the body.
Speaking to CTV News, Olga Kovalchuk, one of the researchers, said: “We were totally stunned at first, and then we were really happy.”
Cannabis can reduce the virus’ entry points to the body by up to 70%, according to the researchers.
Igor Kovalchuk told the Calgary Herald : “Therefore, you have more chance to fight it.
“Our work could have a huge influence – there aren’t many drugs that have the potential of reducing infection by 70 to 80 percent.
The researchers acknowledge that more research is needed, but say that cannabis could be used to develop preventative treatments ‘in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products.’
They said: “While our most effective extracts require further large-scale validation, our study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19.
“Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered.”
However, other experts have warned that smoking cannabis may actually increase your risk of coronavirus.
Speaking to SF Weekly, Dr Stanton Glantz from the UCSF Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said: “Smoking doesn’t cause the flu, vaping doesn’t cause the flu. But people who smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke are more susceptible to getting sick.
“There’s not a lot of direct data on COVID. But there’s a ton of evidence that smoking and vaping depress immune function in your lungs.
“If you look at cannabis smoke and compare it to tobacco smoke, it’s not that different. You have THC instead of nicotine, but the immunosuppressive effects do not seem to be primarily because of nicotine.”